ELLES BAILEY – Road I Call Home (Outlaw Music OLM19CD01)

Road I Call HomeElles Bailey is a Bristol-based musician with a reputation for pulsating live shows. Her first album, Wildfire, was released in 2017 to great acclaim and Bailey’s reputation, already growing because of her live performances, spread quickly. Her second album, Road I Call Home has just been released and is in its second week in the Official UK Country Music charts. If that doesn’t tell you enough about Bailey’s main genre have a listen to ‘Little Piece Of Heaven’ in the video below – a classic country-style song with a hell of a hook for a chorus, an evocative voice and some rather nice musicianship.

The album was recorded in Nashville with award winning collaborators and also showcases Bailey’s wider talents. As a second track, have a listen to ‘What’s The Matter With You’, a much more bluesy song with Bailey slowly rolling off her tongue the lyrics about a relationship going hard/gone hard, all juxtaposed against some nifty lead guitar which draws out the pain.

The opening track, ‘Hell Or High Water’, is another of my favourites bleeding Bailey’s smoky voice in a slow first half of the track into the up tempo second half before a final verse bringing conviction in the musical return to a slower pace, “Come hell, come high water/You ain’t bringing me down”. I also love the song and the story behind ‘Medicine Man’; on the surface it’s a track about an old American Medicine Man (snake oil salesmen, con artist etc.) – but the song was inspired by a man Bailey met in America who, as she puts it, “Stole my soul , off he ran/I was played for a fool by the medicine man”. And to give a full flavour of the album, it’s worth also highlighting the final track, a soulful song called ‘Light In The Distance’.

Bailey’s voice is distinctive, a result not of smoking 60 a day but of being in hospital and breathing through a tube for seventeen days when she was young. This changed her voice…..and when her parents asked the consultant what could be done, he told them she was fine, but if she grew up wanting to be a singer, she’d be a great blues singer. Road I Call Home, then, is this mix of blues, country and soul.

One final comment, though, is that the publicity talks about Bailey potentially moving into a much bigger time, even The Big Time – and, good as it is, professional as it is, I didn’t get it from this album. The publicity also talks about Bailey’s “natural habitat: live performance” so I looked on YouTube for live stuff. There’s a sassiness in the live performances – they’re more raw than the album but I like them the better for that. Bailey is back on the road from May 10th, details on her website.

Mike Wistow

Artist’s website: https://www.ellesbailey.com

‘Little Piece Of Heaven’: